White Pine Elementary's Miranda Erickson strives daily for “a beautiful balance of both fun and learning”

Miranda Erickson

 

In Miranda Erickson’s third-grade classroom, it’s easy for students to feel that someone at school loves and cares about them. For Erickson, who was named White Pine’s Elementary’s 2023-24 Teacher of the Year, the best way to help students excel in school is to establish strong one-on-one relationships with them.

 

Born in Cache Valley, Erickson started her teaching career as an aide in special education classrooms, where she fell in love with education. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a dual degree in Elementary and Special Education. Her career has taken her from Southern Utah to Nevada to Wyoming and back to Cache Valley, where she is currently in her sixth year of teaching.

 

A guiding principle for Erickson is that relationships are critical to helping students feel comfortable in a classroom and be able to learn.  “My first goal is always to get to know students on a deeper level,” Erickson explained. “When I build those relationships, it changes my whole perspective of my students. It makes it fun. At the end of the day, if I know that they love being here and had a lot of fun, that's what's important to me. Half the battle is for students to want to be here.”

 

Miranda Erickson and students   Miranda Erickson and students

 

Having fun at school is paramount to Erickson to create an effective learning environment for students. “Even if school is challenging for a student, I want them to love being here,” Erickson commented. “If they love to be here, at least they're getting the information and the knowledge even when it's hard. My main philosophy is for the students to know that somebody here at school thinks about them every day, even when they're not here.”

 

The ideal school day for Erickson is a perfect balance of learning and fun. For example, Erickson takes her students to decorate the doors and rooms of teachers and staff as a fun break from the classroom. “You're building those relationships because you're in it with the students. You see different personalities than if we're sitting at our desks all day,” Erickson remarked. “There's got to be a beautiful balance of both fun and learning. They know that if they can work hard and get their work done, we can do something fun.”

 

Erickson believes the most important thing her students need to learn is patience when things get difficult and that they can persevere through their challenges. “I’ll tell them, ‘You can get through it. It might be hard today, but you'll get it tomorrow or the next day,’” Erickson explained. “I teach students it'll click sometime. With patience, they can get through all the hard things in their lives.”

 

White Pine Elementary Principal Derek Beer says that Erickson’s upbeat attitude and love have a great impact on the students. “Miranda is such a positive influence in our school,” Beer added. “She brings happiness and love to her classroom that spills out to the whole school. She is amazing!”